MHS marching band makes history in Indianapolis

Junior color-guard captian Ally Wielinga catches her rifle during a performance of the 2022 competition show, Odyssey, at Dwire Field.

Josie Lorenz | The Chronicle

On the grandest stage, the Mason High School marching band made school history.

On November 12, the MHS band placed fourth at the Bands of America Grand Nationals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. Grand Nationals is a national competition featuring bands from around the country who compete in three rounds of performances. Only 12 bands qualify for the final round. 

The band placed second in their class in the semi-final round while also earning commendation for General Effects, an award given for the band’s overall unity and beauty and honor they achieved for the first time in school history. 

Senior drum major Bekah Hufnagel has been a part of the marching band since her freshman year. She was thrilled that the band could bring home such prestigious honors. She said the General Effects recognition was earned due in large part to the team’s continued growth and overall team chemistry which has been evolving during her four years in the program. 

“The difference between my freshman year and this year was that we felt more like a team [and] more cohesive,” Hufnagel said. 

Senior Flute player Shelby Power said she was impressed with the growth of the marching band following past difficulties with COVID-19. She said that the seasoned nature of the band developed by these hardships brought the team together in a way that created success.

“As a whole, the band in the past four years has gotten more mature,” Power said. “Especially after dealing with COVID-19, we never knew what was going to happen to that season. I think that pushed us to work harder.”

The band’s show, aptly named “Odyssey,” not only showcased their performance on the field but accurately captured the band’s commitment to high-level performance and journey over the past few years. Junior Color Guard member Ally Wielinga said there was a passion that each band member committed to the show that helped them soar to new heights. 

“This year everybody was so into it, even though we had some doubts at the beginning,” Wielinga said. “We really pushed ourselves to a new level and that allowed us to be the best we can be and be beautiful.”

Months of practices in all types of weather, including two full weeks of complete run-throughs leading up to Grand Nationals had members of the band looking forward to their ultimate test on the Lucas Oil field. Wielinga admitted that the practices could be long and grueling but she knew that all the hard work would culminate in a memorable experience.

“Getting the opportunity to perform my show to its fullest potential was an incredible feeling,” Wielinga said. “As I counted down the amount [of rehearsals] we had left in the year, I only pushed myself harder until it was our last.”

While hard work and practice have always been important to the marching band’s success, Wielinga said the history made in the 2022 season can be credited to the positive attitude of the band.

“Everything we’ve done as a team [was] to motivate each other, support each other, uplift each other [and] help each other,” Wielinga said. “It really impacted our final performance being stunning.” 

As her marching band career comes to a close, Powers will always consider herself a member of the Mason Marching Band family and said she will continue to support the band. She said she is excited to watch the band continue to grow and prepare to march in the prestigious 2024 Rose Bowl Parade. 

“[The band is] going to the Rose Bowl in 2024,” Power said. “I’m really excited about that. I don’t get to march in it because I’m a senior, but I’m really excited about what the future is going to bring.”

Wielinga said she feels pride in the progress the band has made as a whole in her time on the team. She has no doubt they will achieve great things and continue to make history. 

“We have left our mark [and] made school history, [which] I’ve dreamt about for such a long time,” Wielinga said. “I hope that everyone stays inspired, passionate and motivated. I have no doubt that that will happen.”

Photo by Nancy Riley